Prompted by a complaint by the European Network On Religious Belief, the Belgian news site DH.be changed a photo used in an article about people’s attitudes towards Muslim head coverings.
Published on 16 October 2019, the article reported the hostility of Belgian residents to the wearing of head coverings, referring to a recent study. To illustrate this, DH.be used a photo of a woman wearing a niqab.
ENORB wrote to the editor to say the image of a woman with a full-face veil was not suitable for the article because it is not representative of Muslim women wearing the religious garment across the world, and even less in Belgium, where only a very small minority of Muslim women wear the face-covering veil.
In their complaint, ENORB underlined that Muslim women are consistently stigmatized in the mainstream media, and images such as this ultimately fuel discrimination. “It would lead its readers to think that the Muslim women wearing the veil in Belgium are mostly women who wear the burqa, which is not true,” ENORB said.
The editor of DH.be promptly replied to the ENORB’s letter, recognising the mistake and saying that it was not their intention to equate the Muslim head covering to the niqab. The photo was also changed and replaced by one of a woman wearing a hijab.
It is often the case that editors and reporters are not aware of the implications and the consequences of the photos they use, especially when it comes to stereotyping against a minority group. DH.be acted responsibly, accepting the insight of a charity that strives to combat religious discrimination and prejudice.